For most medium to large-size churches a key part of their communication with their members happens through electronic information. The days of telephone trees, physical newsletters, and in some cases even church bulletins are either past or are ineffective for the next generation. In the global information age a website can be a key part of your plan to cultivate global awareness in the life of your church.
As you consider how to communicate electronically, you will need to first decide whether to have a separate website for global missions or to embed a web page in your church’s existing website. Be sure to connect with your church’s communications team (if your church has one) on the best way forward with this.
As you look to build a website, take a look around at some other churches’ websites and take note of what you like about their website. Here are a few examples of church websites:
Full Global Missions Websites from Established Missions Departments
These websites are either their own individual websites, linked from the church’s main site, or are multi-page websites within their church’s website.
Cornerstone Church, Ames, IA
Doxology Church, Ft. Worth, TX
Summit Church, Raleigh-Durham, NC
The Austin Stone, Austin, TX
Calvary Church, Lancaster, PA
Johnson Ferry Baptist Church, Marietta, GA
One-Page Examples from Medium-Sized Churches
These websites are examples of churches doing a great job in missions with part-time global missions leaders at the helm:
Recommendations for One-Page Global Websites
As you look to build your website, here are a few things to consider putting on your site:
Clear Vision & Purpose Statement. Not everyone is like me, but if you are, you may need to post a sticky note on your screen that says, “Be Clear” and “Be Simple.” Websites should not contain all the information you can think of or try to anticipate every question. They should whet the appetite of those you lead for more. If you’re a long-winded writer, get someone else to read what you’ve written to make it clear, concise, and simple.
Clear and Straightforward Opportunities to Get Involved. Sending Church Element #5 is entitled Involving the Entire Church. It’s amazing how many people search for opportunities to get involved in the church, especially in missions through a website. Provide clear opportunities that are in line with your vision and simple pathways to be involved in those areas.
Short-term Trip Information Form
Long-term Information Form
For websites that have multiple layers or stand alone, here are some more pages that could be considered:
Church Giving Information. Help your church know where the money they are giving is going to and provide for them information on great organizations and people that they could give to if they’d like to give beyond their tithe.
Short-term Trips. List your short-term dates.
Blog Posts. Highlight partners, stories, one-time gifts, and ongoing gifts to your partners.
When it comes to web hosting, Squarespace is one of the simplest platforms to use. If you’re like me, I have very little creative expertise (I took freshman art my junior year of high school). But using a Squarespace template on Cornerstone’s Global website allowed me to make a website that I could never have created from scratch. It also doesn’t allow me to customize everything, which kept me from typical design mistakes I would have definitely made.
Wix and Wordpress are other great hosting platforms. These take a little more user knowledge than Squarespace. We use Wix for Upstream. It’s a little harder to use, but they have great customer service.
Take advantage of the free stock photos. While it’s really cool to have photos that were taken by members of your church in the places you are going, stock photos are generally so well done and cleaner that it outweighs having your own pictures. It also tends to be safer for your Sent-Ones and nationals. Go to www.unsplash.com for great stock photos.
One of the challenges of creating a website is that much of what we want to post can be security concerns for our people overseas. With governments having increasing capacity for internet searches and facial recognition, it’s important that whatever we post on our websites are secure both for our sent-ones and nationals in the countries we are reaching.
The public missions website of your church should be the most secure means of communication. While you can fudge what is shown in your church services or what is handed out in a meeting, what is available on the internet should be carefully considered. Get permission from your Sent-Ones prior to posting anything about them online.
A global missions website will never replace face-to-face conversations about global missions. But a well done website can help validate, clarify, and make for an easier on-ramp to global missions for any church.
Mike Ironside is Missions Pastor at Cornerstone Church in Ames, Iowa. He has served on staff with Cornerstone since 2006 in varying roles from college ministry to pastoral staff to being an overseas missionary sent from Cornerstone for 2 years. Mike is the Director of Cohorts for the Upstream Collective. He also serves as chairman of the board for Campus to Campus, a missions organization dedicated to getting US college students connected to church planting movements amongst college students worldwide.